The question "Can I hack my website?" got closed with this close reason:

This question does not appear to be about Information security within the scope defined in the help center.

However the very help center refered to states this:

Laws - Answers on laws, regulations and licencing should not be taken as legally binding - we're security professionals so deal with legal issues, but this site is not a law site.

If there's a special rule on how to interpret the answers, then clearly legal questions must be on topic. There is also a legal tag with 228 questions. So I assume legal questions are in fact on topic.

Then what was wrong with the question - why was it closed? Or is legal questions off topic? Then why are some legal question not closed, and on the contrary get a positive reception? I think it would be good with some clarification, both on the help pages and for the OP who got his question closed.

Some other questions about legal questions here on Meta:

  • 2
    Yup, and moreover the opening comment is bordering on abusive / dismissive towards a new user: "Questions: 1. 2. 4. Blatantly off-topic (this is not a site about legal issues and it depends on jurisdiction), 3. Just off-topic. – techraf". If someone cares about security enough to post a question, then they at least deserve some respect from us. May 5, 2016 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


Questions that relate to various laws, where the law is the subject, can be on topic (if about security). Questions asking for legal interpretations or applications of the law are off-topic.

Straight up, "is it legal\can I get sued?" is completely off-topic. The flow of logic is simple, and relates to your own answer: "it depends on the jurisdiction". We can't possibly begin to answer without knowing the jurisdiction, but then how do we answer properly when we do?

The answer of "in jurisdiction X, the scope and limitations are Y" becomes pure legal interpretation. If we want to make it less of a statement of fact, then we would need to point the OP to a legal resource so that they could do the research themselves.

As you can see, a workable answer devolves into legal interpretation and directing the OP to a legal resource. Frankly, there is Law.SE for that.

Another way to look at it, "is it legal\can I get sued?" isn't really about security, at all: it's purely a legal question, although about an act that a security person might do. That makes the question only tangentially related to security.

As to your specific answer, I believe your answer might only work in some countries (US, Canada, perhaps more). If the OP's site is in Europe, your answer might be wrong (running hacking tools over the public Internet).

Of all the legal questions that I have seen here, this one you've referenced is probably the exemplar of off-topic-ness. Not only because of the legal question, but because of the lack of basic research and lack of details.

  • 1
    So the short answer is it's off topic because we aren't lawyers? XD Apr 22, 2016 at 23:28
  • 1
    Thank you for your answer! Would the question be on topic if it stated a jurisdiction? (For instance this question is quite similar to my first example, but clearly states that it is US law that applies.) Could you give some examples of what on topic uses for the legal tag would be? Not saying you are wrong, just trying to understand where the line is.
    – Anders
    Apr 26, 2016 at 13:51
  • Note that question is 5 years old, at the start of Sec.SE when the community was still trying to sort things out. Frankly, if asked now, would be closed as off-topic.
    – schroeder Mod
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:24

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